The Writers' Stike: Speechless

Woody Allen on the writers' strike. And this came in by e-mail yesterday from a Hollywood writer and TalkLeft reader:

Yesterday the AMPTP has hired some big gun PR guys who have Democratic connections.

The AMPTP announced yesterday that it had retained Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane of Fabiani & Lehane and Steve Schmidt of Mercury Public Affairs "to assist in communicating the industry's proposed New Economic Partnership."

Fabiani and Lehane have a long history in Democratic politics, serving as senior aides and advisors to President Clinton, Vice President Gore and other Democrats across the country. Lehane is currently in the Hillary camp. Schmidt is a Republican guy, so nothing we can do there.

We would like to get blogs to write about this to put pressure on these guys. The idea that people who work closely with Dems would help to bust a union is disgusting. Hopefully we can pressure them to drop the job.

And a new way to support the writers: Tell the Networks How You Feel.

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    I think, in general, (none / 0) (#1)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 03:43:31 PM EST
    that whether the demands of studios/networks or those the writers are "fair" is irrelevant.

    The studios/nets want to pay less, and the writers want to be paid more.

    Once the ego-driven concept of "fairness" has been supplanted by enough real fear among the suits at the studios/nets and the suits at the union, they'll strike a deal.

    It'd be better for all if they just did it today, instead of continuing the strike for weeks/months, and for those weeks/months continuing to hurt the thousands of workers who are not writers but have been laid off because of the writer's strike, since the final agreement will likely not be significantly different either way.

    I wouldn't compare PR guys to lawyers (none / 0) (#3)
    by DA in LA on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 04:39:30 PM EST
    One is a constitutional right, the other is a spinner of truth.

    It comes down to this:  There are a lot of PR guys out there who don't have ties to Democrats.  Democrats have the support of unions.  If they start associating with people who bust unions, consider that tie over.

    Here is what Lehane said when he was representing SAG way back in 2002.

        "... we believe strongly in the need to preserve the strength of the union and this agreement does that. We both come from liberal, progressive backgrounds, and this union represents working people."

    Now he is working to bust the WGA.  If he is at all associated with any of the Democrats, we writers will make it known.

    Jeralyn - "Writers' Stike?" ;-) (none / 0) (#4)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 05:52:11 PM EST

    In England, 13-14th centuries, a quantity of 25 eels. Ten stikes made a bind of eels.

    Democrats = Unions (none / 0) (#6)
    by koshembos on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:18:28 PM EST
    Of the garbage and lies told by the "not Hillary" camp headed by the semi-Republican Obama, the only really strong criticism is that she uses Mark Penn who heads a PR company that worked for a union-busters. To me, this is a capital political offense.

    The last 7 years we had a government by the very rich, of the very rich and for the very rich. This is what the Republican party has become. Democrats must be different and this means 100% support for unions.

    Democrats without strong support of the union is a moderate Republican party.

    fwiw, avg. income of working WGA members (none / 0) (#8)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:39:05 PM EST
    in 2005 - #250,000+. Top 5% WGA in 2005, over $600,000. Top 5% of all US income tax filers in 2005, a little over $140,000.

    No the WGA don't generally qualify as "the very rich," but they make a living.


    Please site source (none / 0) (#12)
    by DA in LA on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:35:15 PM EST
    Since I am a writer and I understand those "facts" to be complete and total horses*&t

    Then you need to educate yourself. (none / 0) (#14)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:45:12 PM EST
    Sources are the WGA and the IRS.

    You can find all the original sources in my comment way back here. I don't have the time to re-link them in this comment.

    I will admit that I was going by memory in this thread, and after reviewing my original comment (link above), the avg. income of working WGA writers was not $250K+ but rather $200K+.

    Mea culpa.


    You need to learn the difference between average (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 10:25:29 AM EST
    and median.

    You and Bill Gates are holding a conversation in the Average Income Coffeehouse.  You two are the are the only patrons there today.

    What's the average income of the patrons in that coffeehouse?   29.5 billion! Feel any richer?


    As I said in my original comment, (none / 0) (#28)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 11:46:51 AM EST
    linked to above, the median income is over $100,000.

    Not bad work, if you can get it.


    One best Un-named... (none / 0) (#20)
    by TomStewart on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 03:00:20 AM EST
    Here's a lesson in averages: You have 30 homeless guys in a room, with an average income of 0. Suddenly, Bill Gates walks in, now the average income is over one billion.

    That is what averages tells you.

    Look at the median income, not what the guys at the top make, or the guys at the bottom. What do the guys in the middle, the vast majority make.
    I can tell you: a little over 5,000. That's for the 8,000 west Coast members and the 4,000 East coast members.

    The WGA wants its place at the table, to get a chance to partake of what they helped make, of what would not exist without them.

    The Producers want to keep it all for themselves, and take back what little they do give. They're willing to hurt and possibly destroy the business as they know it because the coming new model, the internet, is their chance to do the ultimate rollback: no unions at all, just a gaggle of  compliant workers ready to do whatever the producers ask. If they can achieve that, maybe that is worth scuttling the business.


    I wonder if (none / 0) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 10:06:49 AM EST
    First a disclaimer. I'm on the side of the writers because without them there is nothing.

    But if you have an "industry" that has a median income of $5000 for 12,000 workers that tells me the problem isn't just sharing the wealth, but the wage structure. That is the bottom end needs to be drastically increased until the median represents a fair distribution of the income. What you have now is a "factory" in which some workers are making very large amounts and others are making next to nothing.

    I wonder if the WGA is interested in some top down sharing. Perhaps those making above $125,000 contributing 25% of the amount above $125,000 to a fund to be divided annually in equal amounts to all members??

    Of course the WGA is not a "union" but a "guild." Those trying to get in see the "wealth" bestowed on the top few while the top few see the "wealth" their work has help create not being fairly shared.

    All of this has been created by a "mass market" in which the end product, financed by the "suits" as the "creative" people like to call them, and of course, controlled and managed by other "suits."

    People who "create" have been in conflict with those who only "manage" for thousands of years. It has taken until the 20th century to idolize the "managers" rather than the "creators."

    Truly the Barbarians are at the gate....



    Median, over $100,000. Your point is? (none / 0) (#29)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 11:47:28 AM EST
    Boys, let me educate you... (none / 0) (#45)
    by TomStewart on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 01:20:08 PM EST
    Here's  from  my friend Mark Evaniers site:

    The real story is that those people don't know the real story.

    The first thing to point out is that "the writers in the WGA" do not all work and that they sometimes go long stretches without pay, writing things that do not sell for a many years or at all. I know the job may look sparkling from afar, and I'm not about to suggest it's a bad one. Obviously, I pick my profession willingly and enjoy it. But the screenwriter who's wiping his butt with currency is the rare exception. Each year, the WGA knocks hundreds of members off its Active roster because even though at one point they had jobs that earned them membership, it's been a long time since they got one of those jobs or grossed even a modest amount in their profession.

    If you read the stats, you'll discover that the average screenwriter makes something like $5,000 a year, which wouldn't qualify as "overpaid" in anyone's book. But the situation is really worse than that because there are people who get a million or three per screenplay. And when you have a couple of those guys around, it means there are an awful lot of people making less than $5K for it to average out the way it does.

    As for the ones who do work often...

    Overpaid? That's a relative term. We make a vital contribution to a very profitable industry and in the grand scheme of that industry, our pay is a teensy fraction. Or to look at it another way, there are people who have a lot less to do with the success of a TV show or a movie than its writers but who make a lot more money off it. When our wages are cut -- and every WGA strike of my career has in one way or another been about wanting to cut our wages -- the money we'd lose would not go to widows and orphans. Really, the Producers are not out to correct some horrendous financial injustice by slashing our incomes. They just want to pay less for something, the same way they'd pay less for light bulbs and film and Evian water if they could. (And by the way, I don't think any of the folks who pay us think we're all overpaid, perhaps because if anyone's overpaid, it's them.)


    Mark is one of the best bloggers on the subject, and, as you can see, a WGA member himself. Check in there from time to time, he aways has something interesting going on.


    Brilliant little film (none / 0) (#7)
    by Dadler on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:32:37 PM EST
    The entire strike is really coming down to digital/internet.  The writers want to make sure they are paid for work that is now broadcast when, in the near future, that work is more likely to be broadbanded.  Theatrical films, as well.  The producers are, as of now, offering essentially nothing in the digital area.  I still think this is going to be a long one.  

    Well, to be precise, (none / 0) (#9)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:46:36 PM EST
    the writers certainly would be paid for work that is shown in the digital arena under the studio's present offer.

    In fact, they'd be paid quite handsomely by just about any wage earner's measure.

    The writers just wouldn't be paid as much (via additional residual pmts) as they want to be paid.


    I'd say we disagree... (none / 0) (#10)
    by Dadler on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 06:50:53 PM EST
    ...on what "handsomely" means, relative to the writer's role and importance in the production and broadcast of a story that writer was the original creator of, in an entertainment marketplace overflowing with profits.

    As for the proposals as we know them, the WGA has this to say:

    OKAY. SO HOW IS THEIR MADE-FOR-INTERNET PROPOSAL A ROLLBACK? Currently, the writer of a 30-minute prime-time TV show makes almost $21,000. The conglomerates are proposing that if that writer wrote the same show for the Internet, his or her initial compensation would be $2,600. That's a rollback of 88%.

    SO WHAT'S THEIR OFFER ON INTERNET RERUNS? Currently, the writer of a half-hour television episode makes about $11,600 when his or her episode is first re-run on TV. The companies are proposing that if that same episode is rerun instead on the Internet, they will pay the whopping total of $139 for unlimited reruns for one year--and nothing at all if it only streams for six weeks. About a third of all TV series are now being rerun only on the Internet. This amounts to an immediate 98.8% rollback. And it gets worse. If they decide to call a show "promotional," they don't have to pay us anything. It's a "freepeat."

    WOW. AND WHAT ABOUT FEATURES? Are you sitting down? The companies want to be able to stream any and all feature films in their entirety, supported by advertising dollars, and pay the writers nothing. Zip.

    Nada. Bupkus. A 100% rollback.


    As I said, handsomely (none / 0) (#11)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:07:22 PM EST
    by just about any wage earner's measure.

    $21K/show x 3 or 4 shows/month = $60/$80,000/month. It's a living.

    The falsely maligned home video residual formula is not a discounted formula. On a standard 1 million unit sale of a DVD, a writer garners at least an additional $64,800 beyond initial compensation (on 5 million units at least $324,000; on 10 million units $648,000, etc.).

    I'm heading home so I don't have time to google, but I'm sure the "other side" would not agree with the quotes you provide.


    Sarc, the percentage of writer's... (none / 0) (#27)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 11:44:48 AM EST
    ...who write four shows a month is about zero.  Many writers struggle to get a decent writing gig once or twice a year, others less than that.  This is about fairness and the value of the script to a film or tv show.  You don't have a problem with businessmen out for every penny they can get, or shareholders.  Why this very keen prejudice against writers?  Do you think we are somehow less deserving of a competetively free-market oriented slice of the pie than producers?  And understand that the majority of "producers" you see credited in any film or show have not put up any money to produce the product, they're just agents of those who did, if they are even that.  Should agents be paid much more than those who actually create?  I have no problem with a studio that puts up money, or any production company that puts up money, or any entity that actually funds a project making more than the writer, even the majority of the money.  I have a problem with writers nickel and dimed by suits, and I have a big problem with the way producers are attemtping to exclude writers from significant future profits from the digital transformation of entertainment access and delivery.

    As for DVD residuals, what do you have against the ORIGINAL CREATOR of a story, the people who started with nothing but a blank page (everyone else in the process is an interpretive artist), being paid more than they are now? -- which is, in market terms, a grossly undervalued amount?  And I'd also disagree with your numbers, since we get 4 cents a unit if we get it at all.  We're also supposed to get a portion of the net profits, but, as anyone in this incestuous industry knows, there are NEVER net profits on a film, wink wink.  

    Here's today's WGA daily negitiation update:

    "Today, after three days of discussions, the AMPTP came back to us with a proposal that included a total rejection of our proposal on Internet streaming of December 3.

    "They are holding to their offer of a $250 fixed residual for unlimited one year streaming after a six-week window of free use.  They still insist on the DVD rate for Internet downloads.  

    "They refuse to cover original material made for new media.  

    "This offer was accompanied by an ultimatum:  the AMPTP demands we give up several of our proposals, including Fair Market Value (our protection against vertical integration and self-dealing), animation, reality, and, most crucially, any proposal that uses distributor's gross as a basis for residuals.  This would require us to concede most of our Internet proposal as a precondition for continued bargaining.  The AMPTP insists we let them do to the Internet what they did to home video.

    "We received a similar ultimatum through back channels prior to the discussions of November 4.  At that time, we were assured that if we took DVD's off the table, we would get a fair offer on new media issues.   That offer never materialized.    

    "We reject the idea of an ultimatum.  Although a number of items we have on the table are negotiable, we cannot be forced to bargain with ourselves.  The AMPTP has many proposals on the table that are unacceptable to writers, but we have never delivered ultimatums.  

    "As we prepared our counter-offer, at 6:05 p.m., Nick Counter came and said to us, in the mediator's presence:  "We are leaving.  When you write us a letter saying you will take all these items off the table, we will reschedule negotiations with you."   Within minutes, the AMPTP had posted a lengthy statement announcing the breakdown of negotiations.

    "We remain ready and willing to negotiate, no matter how intransigent our bargaining partners are, because the stakes are simply too high.  We were prepared to counter their proposal tonight, and when any of them are ready to return to the table, we're here, ready to make a fair deal."


    Dadler, reread what I wrote. (none / 0) (#30)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 11:52:36 AM EST
    In a nutshell, at some point the union and the studios/networks are going to come to an agreement.

    My position is that they do so now, rather than later, and let the 10's of thousands of non-WGA members who've been laid-off due to the strike,  get back to work.

    I was not the one who brought up wages, I merely responded with facts to the know-nothing who did.


    Buddy boy (none / 0) (#32)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 12:00:42 PM EST
    If it were you negotiating for a fair deal for yourself, on a project in which you were the original creator, I just cannot believe you would be so easily led to take a bad deal entirely on the other party's terms.  

    I read and re-read what you wrote.  It's not that hard to understand.  Your perspective is that of someone who really doesn't have a grasp on the workings of the industry for your AVERAGE writer. Sorry, that's my opinion.  

    You play negotiator: what do you want the producers to offer, what do you want the writers to accept, and/or vice versa?  Do you think if you wrote a feature film from scratch that you should accept a deal that would pay you 250 lousy bucks for streaming it?  Come on.


    for unlimited streaming of it, that is. (none / 0) (#34)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 12:01:45 PM EST
    important distinction.

    Sigh. (none / 0) (#36)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 12:20:17 PM EST
    You read but you don't comprehend.

    The strike will end when both sides decide to end it.

    Every day that it continues hurts at least 10 workers for every writer. On a TV show that's probably more like 100 workers for every writer.

    I'm sorry that you can't fathom that it'd be better for the suits on both sides to settle sooner rather than later.


    No, Sarc, you can't get beyond your paradigm (none / 0) (#40)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 12:33:33 PM EST
    I can see the ironies all over this thing.  Writer's union perceived as a bunch of overpaid crybabies, everyone out of work because of us, etc.  I ain't blind to it.

    You, however, can't see beyond this idea that the only people who can end this right now, the way you want it ended, is with writers taking whatever the producers offer.  You are under this notion that the producers are actually negotiating.  They just BROKE OFF negotiations and gave an ultimatum.  

    And of course, it's ONLY the writer's fault that people are out of work.  There is no culpability among the studios and conglomerates, rife with money.  We should just shut up and go along.

    We disagree, my man.  We will not agree.  I can think you are wrong, you can thing I am wrong.  It changes nothing of the reality that the producers are not negotiating.  You seem to trust the producers more than the writers, that's fine.  I refer you back to my earlier point about net profits.  Every writer has it in his feature contract that he gets so and so tiny percentage of the net profits, it's in every contract boilerplate.  And yet, somehow, there are NEVER any net profits from a film.  Strange how that works, isn't it?  And the people calculating these non-existent profits, disregarding the actual existing billions in profits on their balance sheets, are to be trusted?

    And the suits are only on one side of this, my friend.  Who are the WGA suits?  We're not corporate executives beholden to shareholders.  We have union negotiaters beholden to their members.  And right now, the members are united.  That seems pretty clear.


    not espouse and do not hold, similar to the old question "When did you stop beating your wife?"

    You seem to think that wanting a sooner rather than later end to the strike is bad. You're right, we'll never agree.


    Daler (none / 0) (#24)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 10:37:13 AM EST
    I can understand the writers wanting as big of piece of the pie as they can get. No problem and greed is good, but I see no particular moral position being held by either side.

    And I wonder if the "average," "median," etc. numbers we see are actually representative. I say this because the income of sales people who are engaged in complex big ticket sales, which are usually long term/more than a year, can be up and down like a roller coaster. One year it is $400K, the next it is a base of $80K.... So I would like to see an average over time. That would be meaningful.


    Greed is not good. (none / 0) (#37)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 12:21:52 PM EST
    Are you taking your morality cues from Ivan Boesky or Oliver Stone's portrayal of Ivan Boesky now?

    Your lack of a sense of humor (none / 0) (#61)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 10:29:55 PM EST
    is showing.

    I'm really trying to understand (none / 0) (#13)
    by DA in LA on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:37:24 PM EST
    Why you have decided to adopt the studios talking points, since they are often complete lies.  Considering this is a left wing site, I would feel the same way about anyone pushing Bush's agenda here.

    I guess the real question is why you would (none / 0) (#15)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:48:02 PM EST
    so obsequiously follow the WGA's talking points.

    Why not think for yourself? Do some of your own research?

    It does a body good.


    Well considering (none / 0) (#16)
    by DA in LA on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 07:50:36 PM EST
    It is my life we are talking about, I have done a lot of research.  I live if daily.

    Many of your assumptions are simply false.

    But I would enjoy another snarky response as they are so refreshing and a sign of great intellect.


    Since I am a writer and I understand those "facts" to be complete and total horses*&t
    I guess since you can't refute the numbers that comment refers to, you simply resort to just stamping your foot and saying "You're wrong, be-be-be-because I said so!"

    Yep, that's exactly what I did (none / 0) (#18)
    by DA in LA on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 08:05:46 PM EST
    I don't argue with people of different political ideologies.  I don't discuss anything with Republicans, it is meaningless to do so.  I come on sites such as this to discuss with like minded people.  I find it to actually be a rewarding experience and I learn quite a bit on this site.

    Based on the nonsense coming out of you and my being a writer, walking the line everyday and keeping up on the facts, I am going to go ahead and say it does me no good to have any sort of discussion with someone who has made up his mind about the rich, greedy writers.  We've all seen your kind since the strike started.  People like yourself are just tiresome and a waste of time.

    So, good luck with your arguments against the union, I have to go stare at my Bentley and tell my Chef to make veal.


    Suit yourself. It's a free country. (none / 0) (#19)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Dec 07, 2007 at 10:03:24 PM EST
    I'm sorry you don't make the dough many others in your union do.

    fwiw, having been in the industry for about 18 years now (a relative noobie, I know) I would bet that your lack of work and income is not a reflection on your writing ability but rather your industry politicking ability.

    That's a compliment, btw.

    That said, according to your own union, in 2005 the top 5% made in excess of $600K (in fact, in excess of $680k+), and the avg. working writer made over $200k ($910,000,000 divided by the 4500+/- working WGA writers).

    In addition, these numbers only reflect union/pension and welfare wages. iow, the waaaay over scale writers, the guys who receive 7 figures for their screenplays, for example, are not included in that $910MM. Who knows how high the numbers would go if they were factored in?

    But, if you come here, to TL, in the expectation that it is inhabited solely by "like minded" automatons that bow down and accept what you and your union say without question, merely because you and your union say so, you are sorely mistaken.

    The income numbers are from your union. Look them up yourself. Learn something.

    If you don't believe your union when it tells you what your own brothers earn, how can you believe anything else it tells you?

    Good luck. There are 10's of thousands of people in LA out of work and earning nothing because of your strike.

    Sleep well.


    I do sleep well (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by DA in LA on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 03:43:43 AM EST
    I'm actually able to do so because I am fighting for my future, fighting against massive conglomerates.

    You seem to be incapable of understanding averages and what the term "working" means in Hollywood.  I wish you luck on your adventure of learning.

    Keep pushing the idea that we are bowing down to our union and our not educated.  It is a fantastic notion and one the AMPTP would greatly like people to believe.  Fantastically untrue.  We question our leaders often and find our own facts.  Stunning in the day of the interweb, I know.  Writers never do research, not at all part of the job.

    And, sadly, I do not lack work.  I make a decent living, one I am happy with.

    But I now understand where your anger comes from.  You have been working in the business for 18 years.  Now there is tremendous instability.  Know that I sleep very well.  The residuals are still coming in, I'm okay.  Hopefully it works out for you.

    Also, I have noticed you are very much a contrarian on this site.  Now I have been on the other end.  


    My anger, (none / 0) (#31)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 12:00:00 PM EST
    and you are correct in that is what it is, is that both sides of the strike seem content to blithely let it stretch on indefinitely while so many other people hurt because of it.

    Fighting for your future and against conglomerates? You're a regular Robin Hood. But, hey, I'm glad you get yours. Very American. To hell with the other 10 guys laid-off for every 1 striking writer.


    At this point I would like to say (none / 0) (#49)
    by DA in LA on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 02:44:27 PM EST
    Get over yourself.

    You behave like a child.


    s.u (none / 0) (#26)
    by jondee on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 11:12:44 AM EST
    It's a more or less open secret that you dont have much use for unions, and or, the concept of unionization and collective bargining, so why dont you lay the reasons for that out in the open rather than continuing with the bogus dispassionate nitpicking critique of this strike and what motivated it? Just so we all understand each other.

    Read my comment, #1 in the thread, above. (none / 0) (#33)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 12:01:25 PM EST
    Think about it, grasshopper.

    hmmm (none / 0) (#25)
    by Deconstructionist on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 10:55:42 AM EST
    Look at the median income, not what the guys at the top make, or the guys at the bottom. What do the guys in the middle, the vast majority make.
    I can tell you: a little over 5,000. That's for the 8,000 west Coast members and the 4,000 East coast members

      I'd have to think that if half the  writers make less than $6000 a year, those writers probably have other jobs besides writing or should strongly consider getting them.

      It would also  seem that for them, the particulars of the CBA will make very little real difference. Their problem is not so much  the rate of compensation for their work but lack of work. Maybe the union should be fighting for more opportunity for the under-employed not more money for the well-employed who seem to be fairly well-paid by every conceivable measure beyond comparison to revenues of the employer.

      Perhaps,  though, the half below $6000 a year are not really the issue and the union is more concerned about the relatively few for whom the CBA particulars would in fact make a big difference in income.

      If you want to complain that it is a distortion for  Sarc to frame  issue as being extremely  well-compensated people  wanting  more money, you should refrain from making an argument that is at least equally specious -- that the fight is about people who make very little money being paid significantly more. Those folks are essentially irrelevant unless and until they get more jobs.


    Good gravy, man (none / 0) (#35)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 12:08:39 PM EST
    If a businessman had a patent and thought it was violated, certainly you'd opine that he should just find another gig and stop complaining.

    The filthy rich writer/producers (and you understand this irony, yes?) walking the picket lines for the WGA are not doing so to make themselves all that much more rich -- they're already there.  They are walking for the ENTIRETY of the membership, many of whom are not that well off who's creative and intellectual rights are most affected.  They are walking for the future, a future studios want to dominate financially, leaving writers with an unfairly small slice of the pie, if any slice at all.

    Of course many writers have other jobs.  So what?  They still create and their creations are used to make a profit.  They should share in that profit commensurate with the importance their work -- which is, um, fairly important (reality shows are largely written, too, btw).  

    And sarc's numbers are not accurate.  His DVD residual rate is incorrect, his notion that writers are writing three or four shows a month is comically ignorant.


    No, (none / 0) (#38)
    by Deconstructionist on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 12:29:36 PM EST
      but I might opine that his claim he was seeking to enforce his valuable patent rights for the benefit of those with patents for products or ideas that don't sell was transparently self-serving and that he should just admit he wwas doing it to get money he thought he should get.

      The point I made using your and he other writer's numbers about the median income is to illustrate just how hollow the argument the strike is about them is. Even if you tripled the incomes the bottom half  would receive from their endeavors it would leave them with a pittance and they would stll be unable to support themselves as writers. In reality, the new CBA will have very little impact on their lives unless they move well into the top half.

      There's nothing at all wrong about fighting for one's personal interest and no need to be defensive about doing so, just don't try and sell me a buillof goods that you are doing it for the poor and hungry. If those folks are relying on this strike they will still be cold and hungry when it's over.

      It's Hollywood and everyone dreams of striking it big and becoming a "a star." The real purpose of the "we're doing it for entire membership" line might be to keep the stars in the eyes of the strggling and make it less likely they'll eventually become scabs to make some money by providijg scripts for the current rate while their more successful peers are out.


    The fact that a good (none / 0) (#46)
    by jondee on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 01:34:25 PM EST
    deal for the top half dosnt become an instantaneous coup for the bottom half is far from an airtight vindication of some Hollywood-red-in-tooth-and-claw theory of other peoples motivations.

    Dadler (none / 0) (#39)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 12:32:38 PM EST
    Don't be a moron. Writers on TV shows, as long as they don't F-up, often work on all 22 episodes.

    Sitcoms usually write/shoot one/week, and often 3 weeks on, one off.

    1 hour dramas, do one show every 7-10 shooting days, and often only have holiday breaks.

    Regardless of how many/month your particular show does, 22 episodes X your number of $21K/show = a pretty good living.

    Regardless of your ignorant quibbles, according to the WGA in 2005 the median wages of working writers was over $100,000.

    Are you sure you're in the industry? Or is that just your internet persona.


    Dude, what's moronic (none / 0) (#41)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 12:45:22 PM EST
    ...is your inability to grasp the difference between a sitcom staff writer (of which there are few since there are precious few jobs) and freelancers (of which there are many).  There are a finite number of staff job available.  Those on staff are often writer/producers.  The percentage of writers on staff of a running show is very small.

    Again, when you show me how easily you take a deal entirely on the other side's terms, then I can take your argument seriously.  You seem bitter, which I understand, but you make no attempt to understand what this strike is really about.  It's about the transformation of access and delivery of entertainment to the internet/digital arena.  The producers are doing everything they can to try and have as union-free a future as possible.  Again, you'd certainly cave on these issues were your future earnings at stake.  

    I repeat, your knowledge of the writing game in Hollywood is not good.  You started this yet again with a claim based on a false assumption -- that since staff writers make great money, this strike is about nothing worth striking over.  You offered it, apparently, unaware that a staff writing position on a guild-contract show is rare and represents a small fraction of even working writers.  

    Great little film about the strike from firedoglake via crooks&liars on the strike, check it out -- I'm sure it'll piss you off more.

    Happy Holidays, grumpy.  Wink wink.


    on a TV show is immaterial. That fact is, they exist. And enough of them exist, and enough similar other well-paying industry writing position exist, such that the median income of working WGA writers in 2005 was over $100,000.

    As for the rest, tell you what, let's make a deal. Since I don't ascribe positions to you that you don't espouse nor take, why don't you offer me the same courtesy. That way both of us will limit our ignorance.


    Super (none / 0) (#51)
    by DA in LA on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 02:50:27 PM EST

    Minus taxes - minus laywer - minus manager or business manager - minus agent.

    Hey, it's under $50,000!


    How deluded are you? (none / 0) (#50)
    by DA in LA on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 02:49:10 PM EST
    Writers lose jobs because shows are canceled.  Writers lose jobs because they pilots are not picked up.  It is a pretty constant existence of getting fired and then waiting for another job to open up.

    Your entire post here is an exercise in ignorance.


    that go nowhere, getting fired and waiting for another job to open up, etc., despite all that, the median earnings for working WGA writers are still over $100,000.

    Have any opinion you want, but at least be mature enough to accept the facts. Lest your willful ignorance be displayed even more than it has already.


    how much (none / 0) (#53)
    by Jen M on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 04:52:32 PM EST
    do the studios make?

    Like I said in my very first comment, when each side gets scared enough or tired enough then they'll come to an agreement.

    imo, sooner is better than later. Get it done now, and minimize the hurt to all involved. Not sure why that's such a controversial position.


    I don't think (none / 0) (#56)
    by Jen M on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 07:54:05 PM EST
    "end this soon" is as controversial as "most of the writers are rich and/or spoiled" kinds of comments.

    But thanks for joining in with the rest in a variation on the "When did you stop beating your wife?" meme.

    Because I said things like:

    No the WGA don't generally qualify as "the very rich," but they make a living.
    Not bad work, if you can get it.
    etc., along with absolutely accurate and factual numbers from the WGA itself.

    Like I said to DA, and many others here on TL over the years - have any opinion you like, just be honest enough to accept the facts and don't justify your opinion with untruths.

    The strike sucks. Both sides should quit their "win/lose" paradigms, and end the F'n thing now, not in 1 or 3 or 6 or whatever months.

    Like that'll ever happen.


    wow (none / 0) (#59)
    by Jen M on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 09:10:49 PM EST
    it sure sounded like it to some.  I guess you didn't notice.

    It certainly is what you implied.  

    What the hell do you expect people to think you mean when you throw around large incomes -- that you think they are poor?


    Just read the words I write Jen, (none / 0) (#60)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 09:40:53 PM EST
    don't infer positions I did not espouse and do not take. How many times have I said that on this thread?

    That someone is not your rescuer does not, by definition, make him your persecutor.

    Here, and in life in general.

    Good night all.


    Well, you really got me there. (none / 0) (#54)
    by DA in LA on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 05:57:09 PM EST
    And you can check out my post above to see how $100,000 = $50,00 for a writer.  But I only know that from personal experience, not a website.

    You seem to have now defined the middle class here in LA and that is what the Guild has always claimed we are fighting for.

    You started with $600,000, then $250,000, then $200,000 and now we are at $100,000.  Really well done.

    Though I do enjoy your constant name calling, I'm going to move on.


    that the income numbers I quoted - the very ones your own union brags about on its website - are truthful and accurate and not
    complete and total horses*&t
    as you originally claimed a full day ago.

    Kudos to you actually, there are some/many here that would never admit to such a thing.


    so many TL commenters (none / 0) (#44)
    by Jen M on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 01:04:32 PM EST
    seem to prefer reality shows. You guys are going to LOVE next years schedule.  Enjoy!

    Thats all you're going to get.

    so? (none / 0) (#47)
    by Deconstructionist on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 01:43:24 PM EST
      This is where I think both sides might be miscalculating. The threat of no new TV shows is not much. The end result of that might just be a smaller pie for everyone when the strike is over and viewers who sought other entertainment during the hiatus don't return. It's not exactly like having no transportation or garbage pick-up. Deprive people of new TV shows and they'll simply do something else or at least  watch something else and some might find there's a whole world out there they like better. Given the current state of scripted television, I'm not sure it's in either sides' interest to make even more people explore other options.


    Its not both sides (none / 0) (#48)
    by Jen M on Sat Dec 08, 2007 at 02:03:17 PM EST
    its three or four.  The studios are doing as much as is humanly possible to piss off the actors.

    Like they have been very successfull in alienating fans for over a decade.

    Enjoy those reality shows.


    Not to sound like a snob (none / 0) (#62)
    by Deconstructionist on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 11:01:12 AM EST
      but I watch so little non-news or non-sports TV it's not going to make a difference to me one way or the other. That's not the issue. I really have no particular interest in any of it and the only side for which I sam muster any sympathy would be the stagehands or whatever they are called these days. The networks, studios, producers, directors and actors can fight all they want over the money and I really could care less who wins or loses among them.

    No idea about Oprah's position, (none / 0) (#63)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Dec 10, 2007 at 12:47:50 PM EST
    but the IA's position is that the WGA is screwing everyone else over:
    The strike's toll on thousands of production workers who aren't members of the Writers Guild of America has deepened friction with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents below-the-line workers.

    The breakdown Friday of talks between the Writers Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers prompted a scathing denunciation of the guild's leadership from stage employees union President Thomas C. Short.

    "I don't believe the WGA ever intended to bargain in good faith," said Short, who has repeatedly clashed with guild leaders in the last year. "And they are destroying a lot of lives in the process."

    Article link (none / 0) (#64)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Dec 10, 2007 at 12:49:24 PM EST
    Just googled. (none / 0) (#65)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Dec 10, 2007 at 01:20:46 PM EST
    Apparently Oprah chooses not to hire WGA members on her show.